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Behind the Badge Police officers have to think of safety before people’s feelings

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Posted: Monday, March 21, 2011 12:00 am | Updated: 6:28 am, Mon Mar 21, 2011.

Sometimes you just can't please everyone.

This week's rant is going to discuss why people sometimes get mad at us for the way we do business on the street. A pretty common complaint people have stems from the way they are questioned, contacted or arrested when they are suspected of a crime or have broken the law.

You're not going to believe this, but some people don't like getting arrested. Some people don't even like talking to the police. Crazy, right?

How is that possible? How can people not like talking to us? Oh well, sometimes you just can't please everyone. But we still try.

Here are some of the complaints we routinely hear, what we think when we hear them (what I think anyway), and a little bit of why we do what we do.

Common scenario No. 1: A burglary occurs. We have witnesses, and we have developed good information that the suspect just fled into a particular residence. We muster up a couple of cops and make contact. Once we do, we notice we have located the suspect, and act quickly.

The suspect's mother is home (yes, thieves often live with their parents), and she starts yelling at us, "You didn't have to come to my house with that many cops, making us look like criminals! It's just my son! You're gonna get me evicted!"

Well gee whiz, Mom, I didn't realize it was your son who burglarized that house. If I had known, I would have taken him out for a cheeseburger value meal, then read him a story before I told him he was under arrest. Sorry about that.

Common scenario No. 2: A shooting occurs. Fortunately, nobody is hit, but someone took a few shots at someone.

Once we arrive on scene, we start getting information that it may be gang-related. We then find a witness who saw the shooting, and recognized the suspect from living in the area. The witness wants to help, and gives us the name of the suspect. We recognize him as one of our younger local gang members.

As we are searching for the suspect, we locate him walking down the street. He sees us and runs. We act quickly and accordingly, which involves the yelling of lots of commands, lights, sirens, and subsequently detaining him at gunpoint.

Just as this is happening, residents come out of their homes and recognize the suspect as a neighborhood kid. Not knowing anything about what happened, people quickly become angry, yelling, "You don't have to treat him that way! He is just a kid! This is police brutality!"

OK, yes, he is just a kid. He is 16 years old, and that 16-year-old just tried to kill someone. Since he is only 16, I guess to make some people happy, I should have tapped him on the shoulder and said, "Excuse me sonny, can we get an ice cream and discuss this whole shooting nonsense?" Unfortunately, we can't call a time out to explain to everyone what going on.

And last but not least, "All you had to do was call me! You didn't have to show up at my house embarrassing me in front of everyone. I would have come in!" OK, then. The next time I will just call, and this is what I will expect from you:

Officer: "Hi there. This is Sheriff Taylor from Mayberry PD. You remember that stabbing you did yesterday?"

Suspect: "Oh yeah, Sheriff. How can I help you with that?"

Officer: "Well, if it's not too much trouble, could you come to the police department so I can arrest you, and with any luck, have you spend the next three to five years in prison?"

Suspect: "Sure thing. I just started dinner though, but I'd be happy to come down in just a little bit. Would 6:30 be OK?"

Officer: "Yeah, that would be great. Thanks. Since you may not be home for three to five years, don't forget to turn out the lights and get someone to care for the dog. Lock your doors, too, because there are a lot of thieves out there."

Suspect: "Oh thanks, I would have forgotten that. I sure hate thieves. I'll see you soon."

We as officers all have a couple of common goals. One, of course, is to get the bad guys, and maintain a safe city to live in. But our other goal is to go home to our families alive at the end of the day. People don't like to be arrested, and often react violently. We need to conduct ourselves in the safest manner possible, keeping the safety of the public in mind, as well as our own.

Any comments, questions or advice for Behind the Badge can be e-mailed to Jeanie Biskup at jbiskup@pd.lodi.gov; mailed to Lodi Police Department, 215 W. Elm St., Lodi, CA 95240; or asked by phone at 333-6864.

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Welcome to the discussion.


  • Robert Jacobs posted at 12:06 pm on Tue, Apr 5, 2011.

    Robert Jacobs Posts: 298

    This article states among other things which I will get to: "Unfortunately, we can't call a time out to explain to everyone what going on."

    Answer: Yes you can, you could answer those questions instead of a bunch of you standing around telling your story to each other about how this all started, and how Joe did this and Mike did that. Yes, you could go to those people and at least try to explain your actions. But you don't and it's because you believe you don't need to. The police want to do what they want to do and they don't like being questioned under any circumstances especially by the general public.

  • Marilyn Pudwell posted at 8:16 am on Wed, Mar 30, 2011.

    Marilyn Pudwell Posts: 3

    JK, We seem to be talking about two different things so I'll leave the rest to you. No further posts from me....

  • Jerome Kinderman posted at 1:02 pm on Tue, Mar 29, 2011.

    Jerome R Kinderman Posts: 2370

    So Ms. Pudwell, are you now suggesting that any article or column in the News-Sentinel should be written at a 4th grade level or below? In spite of English not being declared our official national language (something I believe needs to be changed soon), it is what most of us speak and read. To "dumb down" the News-Sentinel to such an extent would be an affront to those of us who suffered through many days and weeks in Miss [Fill in the blank]'s grammar classes in order to better understand books, newspapers, magazines, television, contracts, etc.

    "Assimilation" should be one of the first words that our new citizens should define and understand in order to be productive and successful. This integration into American life begins with understanding the language. Parents who only speak their native languages within the confines of their homes are doing a terrible disservice to their children all for the sake of maintaining their culture.

    It is my hope that the next Amendment to the U.S. Constitution will be to establish English as our National Language.

  • Marilyn Pudwell posted at 9:45 am on Tue, Mar 29, 2011.

    Marilyn Pudwell Posts: 3

    Mr. JK, I wasn't referring to educated adults with a full grasp of English. I was referring to someone learning English and maybe being able to read a little at the 4th grade level.

  • Jerome Kinderman posted at 10:31 pm on Sun, Mar 27, 2011.

    Jerome R Kinderman Posts: 2370

    Ms. Pudwell, are you seriously suggesting that Officer Kermgard should have chosen a different approach in his writing of this particular column simply because non-English speaking readers might have a problem following along? Clearly you're attempting to be sarcastic with such a notion, no? Not so clearly?

    I would think that since Americanized English isn't easy to learn and is often harder to comprehend by those of us raised speaking it that those trying to learn it as adults would welcome the chance to be pushed into the deep end of the pool as it were. If not, then that's just too bad for them. I seriously doubt I would be given any consideration in Mexico or any other country if I were to ask that sarcasm be avoided for my benefit because I don't understand their language. Just imagine asking the French for such latitude!! I'd be laughed all the way to Charles de Gaulle IAP!!

  • Marilyn Pudwell posted at 2:54 pm on Sun, Mar 27, 2011.

    Marilyn Pudwell Posts: 3

    Sarcasm is one of my favorite types of humor. I don't think it has a place, however, in this type of article written by a police officer and published in a local paper. I am sure that most people understand what the article is meant to convey. But there are many people in this town who are making an effort to learn English. I tutor a Hispanic woman and frequently ask her to read something from the LNS and plan to discuss it at our next session. I'm sure that if she had attemped to read this article she would be thoroughly confused. The nuances of the English languare are hard enough to learn without having sarcasm thrown into the mix.

  • Jerome Kinderman posted at 11:34 am on Fri, Mar 25, 2011.

    Jerome R Kinderman Posts: 2370

    Ms. Dean, other factors need to be taken into consideration as well. When police arrive at any residence where conflict is obvious, they have no idea who the good guys are or what the bad guys might be trying to do in order to gain an upper hand on the situation. Therefore, I don't find it unreasonable for the police to view everyone as a potential adversary. As such I completely understand why they wouldn't don the kid gloves when dealing with unknown people who approach them even with smiles on their faces.

    The good guys ARE the police. Are there bad apples in the bunch? Of course there are. But to lump them all into that category is not only patently unfair but inherently dangerous. We NEED the police to be there when things go so wrong that protection is required. I remember an instance where one of my children was in the wrong place at the wrong time and found himself in a very uncomfortable position handcuffed and face-down on the floor. In the military we referred to such a position as "jacked up." He had to stay that way until things were sorted out and it was determined that he posed no threat and was not a part of the problem. The best part about that whole ordeal was the lesson that my child learned and it wasn't that the cops were bad for treating an innocent citizen in such a way.

    I rather enjoyed the humor contained within Officer Kermgard's column. But I can also see where others might find his sense of humor as sarcastic. Considering the type of job these men and woman have volunteered to do, I'll continue to give them the benefit of the doubt. Others, of course, are free to continue to view them in any way they choose.

  • Betty Dean posted at 11:30 pm on Thu, Mar 24, 2011.

    Betty Dean Posts: 144

    Thanks, Jerome : ) It is the truth. People really try to get involved into things and situations where they are NOT needed or wanted.
    Just let them do their business and get out of the way .
    I really wish People would do this but they dont.

  • Darrell Baumbach posted at 7:35 pm on Thu, Mar 24, 2011.

    Darrell Baumbach Posts: 9405

    Jerome Kinderman posted at 11:23...I don't believe anyone but one person would have misunderstood my intention or "definition" made by my posting that police "volunteer" for their jobs.
    Jerome... I have posted several times that this bogger was oblivious to the obvious. It is getting old... your intent was clear...

  • Jerome Kinderman posted at 4:04 pm on Thu, Mar 24, 2011.

    Jerome R Kinderman Posts: 2370

    Mr. Chaney, I fail to understand whatever point you were trying to make in your post at 3:51 p.m. How about a little clarification since you directed it at me?

  • Doug Chaney posted at 3:51 pm on Thu, Mar 24, 2011.

    Doug Chaney Posts: 1232

    Jerome, these are your "volunteers" that fight over who will get that gravy overtime on the checkpoints and who can rack up the most brownie points for drivers' license and insurance infractions, since DUI arrests are few and far between. Maybe those tow truck drivers are good tippers, too?

  • Jerome Kinderman posted at 11:23 am on Thu, Mar 24, 2011.

    Jerome R Kinderman Posts: 2370

    I don't believe anyone but one person would have misunderstood my intention or "definition" made by my posting that police "volunteer" for their jobs. Just as our military is considered and "all volunteer" force so are our police departments. To attempt to force an unnecessary confrontational argument from something so simple is the height (or would that be depth?) of intellectual dishonesty. Sadly, this is what I've come to expect from this particular contributor and is the reason I refuse to respond directly to her.

    Of course I stand by my opinion of who they are and what they do FOR our community. During my entire 21 years here in Lodi I’ve never had a problem with a police officer. Perhaps if others have been mistreated by one or more of these men and women they should at the very least seek counseling in order to find a way to deal with what has happened to them. At the same time, reporting any such misbehavior or maltreatment should also be reported to the authorities at the police department itself. I do believe they have an internal affairs department that deals with these very issues.

  • Jerome Kinderman posted at 9:13 am on Thu, Mar 24, 2011.

    Jerome R Kinderman Posts: 2370

    Ms. Dean suggested, "People, when you see police/fire business going on. If you dont have information to give them , GET OUT OF THE WAY AND DONT GET INVOLVED!!!"

    Now that's the best advice I've read so far.

  • Joanne Bobin posted at 9:10 am on Thu, Mar 24, 2011.

    Joanne Bobin Posts: 4488

    Mr. Kinderman - I know that you are "amazed" and totally enjoy telling people that they are idiots, but in this case you need to check the mirror.

    Police are not "volunteers" as you claim. According to your definition, anyone employed in any job is a volunteer. By definition, a volunteer is UNPAID. Show me one police officer who would do his job sans monetary gain.

    Perhaps you should read a little on the subject of the types of individuals who are or who want to become police officers. Perhaps you should look into the amount of funding that goes toward domestic peace-keeping operations. For example, just a few days ago, in this "rag," as you call it (but somehow cannot keep from reading), there was an article about DUI checkpoints - checkpoints that are funded by "grants" from the State. Two of the conditions of receiving these "grants" are that a certain number of officers (FOURTEEN) MUST man them and the hours MUST be OVERTIME hours. In case you are wondering, it is the police unions that dictate these conditions.

    These "volunteers" have a tremendous amount of power and influence and, thanks to people like you who believe that they should be given carte blanche to spend by instilling fear into the populace, they are draining our resources. And NO - they do not deserve to assume attitudes like Officer Kermgard. If they don't like all aspects of the job they are free to find other occupations.

  • Betty Dean posted at 10:51 pm on Wed, Mar 23, 2011.

    Betty Dean Posts: 144

    I REALLY enjoyed reading this! I totally agree with the Officer, I hope they all make it home safe every night!
    People, when you see police/fire business going on. If you dont have information to give them , GET OUT OF THE WAY AND DONT GET INVOLVED!!!

  • Jerome Kinderman posted at 7:30 pm on Wed, Mar 23, 2011.

    Jerome R Kinderman Posts: 2370

    I'm actually amazed that I would have to explain this to anyone older than twelve. Our police forces, just like our military forces, are comprised of volunteers. There is no one forcing them to take on the responsibilities, risks and benefits of membership.

    That being said, along with teachers and firefighters I have very little patience for any of them moaning and groaning that they aren't being paid enough for the jobs they do. After all, prior to volunteering to serve in those positions they knew (or should have known) everything about the positions they were about to take on.

    I also have little latitude for those who moan and groan when receiving either a citation or dressing down by one of these officers who at each time they stop a vehicle are putting their lives on the line. There are far too many accounts of these brave men and women being slaughtered because they stopped a speeding car not knowing that the driver’s weapon is already loaded and ready for business.

    Just try to imagine a society that has no police force – there wouldn’t be bars big enough or strong enough to put on our windows to keep us safe.

  • Joanne Bobin posted at 9:55 am on Tue, Mar 22, 2011.

    Joanne Bobin Posts: 4488

    Actually, Mr. Kinderman, the officers of the LPD do not "voluntarily" put their lives on the line. They do it for a very lucrative salary, overtime rates, benefits, retirement (the current interim chief is retiring in his early 50's and the last two retired at 50 and 52) and with less education than most other "professionals." And if they desire to be called "professionals" they should, at the very least, refrain from writing sarcastic columns in the local paper.

    As far as your amusement at the term "literary attitude," my comments do not appear in print, nor are they distributed to the entire community as do Officer Kermgard's.

    As far as Mr. 2085 is concerned, he should be thankful that he has a successful business in insurance and has not relied on his second career as an intellectual poseur. One thing that Officer Kermgard has going for him is that he knows how to spell and uses correct grammar and vocabulary.

  • Darrell Baumbach posted at 3:08 pm on Mon, Mar 21, 2011.

    Darrell Baumbach Posts: 9405

    Jerome... I think the only thing that would make Bobins comments"change their literary attitude." more funny would be if anyone took them as anything but folly.

  • Jerome Kinderman posted at 11:48 am on Mon, Mar 21, 2011.

    Jerome R Kinderman Posts: 2370

    Well golly, I guess the cops just can't please everyone, huh? And I would have thought a little humor might have been positively accepted especially here in lovable ol' Lodi. No? One person's humor is another's sarcasm. Either way, since these men and women voluntarily put themselves in harm's way to protect ALL of us from the little Johnny's who are indeed out there to rob and kill, I'll cut them a tad of slack as they try a little proactive diffusion in the News-Sentinel. And while I’m usually critical of the manner in which the editors of the LNS manage this little rag of theirs, I must commend them for permitting the local police to publish these community relations articles. If all they do is help the cops, then they’ve done a world of good for the rest of us.

    Oh, and for anyone who has a problem with the way they do their jobs, just take down their badge number(s) or vehicle ID(s) and file a complaint. I’m sure you will receive a response.

    Finally, I am actually laughing out loud that a certain contributor would be suggesting that anyone "change [their] literary attitude." Now that's rich!

  • Joanne Bobin posted at 9:50 am on Mon, Mar 21, 2011.

    Joanne Bobin Posts: 4488

    I am truly shocked that the LPD and the LNS is actually publishing these "rants" (Officer Kermgard's word) on a weekly basis.

    If this is what the LPD considers to be community relations, then someone needs to rethink the policy.

    There was an incident about a year ago on my street (a heavily traveled main artery in Lodi) in which a young man was being arrested for public intoxication. No less than 6 squad cars and 4 motor officers arrived on the scene. As the nosy neighbor that I am (we do have a neighborhood watch), I asked a motor officer why so many officers had responded. He explained that it was a "shift change" and all available officers from two shifts just "happened" to be in the vicinity. He then "suggested" that I should try to mind my own business for a change (the "event" was happening right in front of my home).

    Really? What a tremendous amount of misuse of police manpower. I was glad I wasn't being the victim of some other crime at this moment - there wouldn't have been anyone available.

    Change your literary attitude, Officer Kermgard, and you might be able to sell the idea that LPD officers don't automatically have one at every call.

  • Jay Samone posted at 8:10 am on Mon, Mar 21, 2011.

    Jay Samone Posts: 359

    Officer Kermgard - I find your sarcasm a little unnerving. When you arrive at a call, both your adrenaline and the people at the locations' adrenaline are in high gear. You should expect you are going to have verbal harassment or altercations with the individuals at the scene - especially when it's their "little sweet boy" that's being arrested. If your sarcasm helps you get it through, that's great, however to publish it in the LNS only gives creedence to people's negative perceptions of this Department.

    I've had several interactions with the local officers and I can tell you - THEY are the jerks. I have waited on many of them at a popular local restaurant and they have been nothing but RUDE - especially in uniform. One particular Sgt parked in his squad car in the red zone and blocked my route to the trash can. While he was picking up his "to-go" order, I asked him if his food was the emergency (as a joke). He got irate with me and told me that he can park wherever he wants because he's an officer. Or what about the motorcycle officer who followed me for over a mile and blinded me with his headlight at 5am in the morning while I was driving to work. I was going the speed limit but this jerk wouldn't get off my bumper and I couldn't get over. Sure enough - as soon as I got tired of being blinded and sped up to get over into the other lane to let him pass me, he lit up his lights. When he got to the window he was yelling at me. I would name BOTH these jerks but the LNS wouldn't post this.

    Officer Kermgard - if you are going to complain about your interactions with the public, please know that there are plenty of legitimate complaints about officers as well.


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